Holden Caulfield's Depression

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Depression is a serious condition that separates the sufferer from the world outside his head and causes a strange mixture of desire for and repulsion from human contact. This is why when J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, wants to showcase or elaborate upon his main character, Holden Caulfield’s alienation, he uses language that signifies depression. Holden’s repeated usage of language of depression reveals his alienation from people and his loneliness and longing for them throughout his interactions with others. This is evidenced through the appearance of language of depression when Holden experiences emotional distress or a death wish associated with his distance from society. Holden’s emotional distress is a consistent…show more content…
It is also caused by his alienation and loneliness. It is first touched upon after Holden’s fight with his roommate, Stradlater, when Holden staggers, still bleeding, into his neighbor, Ackley’s, room. Although Holden strikes up a conversation with Ackley, he insists that he feels “so damn lonesome,” and once the subject of his conflict with Stradlater is breached, Holden becomes sullen and withdraws from his conversation with Ackley into his own thoughts; he then insists that thinking about Stradlater and Jane Gallagher, a girl from Holden’s past, together makes him feel “like jumping out the window” (Salinger 48). Holden’s alienation from Ackley is what causes him to feel misery, but this misery is quickly combined with Holden and Stradlater’s fight, and becomes a starkly suicidal thought. Thoughts like this are often associated with depression, but are usually random, fleeting, and not acted upon. However, when a suicide plan is consistent and methodical, it is far more understandable to worry. Holden’s plan becomes a pattern after his altercation with Maurice, Sunny’s pimp. Holden’s distress in this case is actually quite justified, as Maurice wakes him up in the middle of the night in order to steal five dollars from him. He then proceeds to punch Holden in the stomach and disappear back into the night. As soon as the adrenaline from the encounter wears off, Holden’s reaction is to declare that what he really wants to do is “jump out of the window,” and that he would gladly do it if he was sure that nobody would stand around gawking at his corpse. Two separate times a defeat in a fistfight sparked Holden Caulfield’s desire to kill himself, but this would not be nearly as worrying if he had not asserted both times that he wanted to jump out of a window. This evidences a suicidal pattern with a clear trigger and a premeditated plan. Both fights

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